Congratulations to Marlon James who was named winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction on Tuesday 13 October. His novel ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ is set in Kingston, Jamaica and is a fictionalised account of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976.
But let’s rewind a little…
Back in mid-September the Man Booker Longlist was whittled down to just six titles, sending both book lovers and book makers across the land into frenzy. Here at the Mobile Library Reading Group we were thrilled to receive copies of the each shortlisted title for us to read, discuss and review. As you can imagine, it was a task we embarked upon with unbridled joy and delight.
Those helpful bods at Man Booker set up an online discussion forum for selected reading groups to share their opinions of the individual titles as well as their experiences of shadowing the prize, and as you can imagine, we certainly made use of this resource. Here are some of our members’ comments about a few of the shortlisted books:
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
“An Epic Book – an epic story 1959 – 91, it draws you into a Jamaican world of drugs, killing ,ghetto, dons, dealers and enforcers….and their woman folk. I wished it had more about the woman characters – I was totally engrossed in their story”
The Year of the Runaways by Sanjeev Sahota
“Another epic tale of 3 runaway men and the woman who is the ‘visa-wife’ of one of them. The novel journeys from India to England this traces their life stories from poverty to relative security, but at what cost? Powerful, heartrending, complex and very long, but every page was beautifully written I just couldn’t put it down”
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
“The cover says ‘oscillates between the brilliant and the vague’ I found it mainly vague. Although not expecting any conclusions, nothing seemed to get ‘decoded’ either. I guess ‘corporate anthropology’ is just that kind of amorphous (?) human science that throws up endless questions and a multitude of (or no) answers !!?! Read in one sitting. Disappointed at the end.”
The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma
“One of the best books I have read this year!! Stunningly beautiful and heart-warming book that then can take you to depths of despair and sorrow. A bang up to date portrayal of a Nigerian family torn apart by a dangerous prediction that causes a tragic chain of events.”
In the heady days leading up to the announcement, two of the shortlisted authors came together for an event at the Library of Birmingham. Hosted by the Birmingham Literature Festival, this was a great opportunity to hear Sunjeev Sahota and Tom McCarthy read from their novels and answer questions from an enthralled audience. There was even time at the end of the event for the authors to sign copies of their books and have a quick chat with their many fans.
It was a real privilege for us to be involved in the whole process and we relished the chance to contribute our thoughts to the Man Booker website.